Last week was a little bit crazy. I was working for my third consecutive year at the Henley Literary Festival in the small town of Henley-on-Thames about an hour west of London. As always, the week absolutely flew by. I’ve learned that when time is measured in 20-45 minute increments, it is almost impossible to slow it down. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. I was monstrously productive in the 20 minutes of chaos we had between every event. But it took me half of the down time I did have to relax and enjoy a small break before I had to ramp up again for the next 20 minutes of madness.
I did manage to sneak in some moments of relaxation though: I wrote several overdue cards to friends, I journaled (a lot), I cuddled with the softest puppy I have ever met, I had a (somewhat) leisurely lunch with my favourite boy, I went for a morning stroll by the river and I sent a postcard to my new friend in Paris. Oh yeah, and I was interviewed by Robert Elms on BBC London.
The benefits of being behind the scenes at a literary festival are that you get the chance to meet people you might not otherwise. Highlights included:
- having a formerly ordained priest and now openly gay Welsh MP continuously top up my wine glass because he thinks it is important that gingers stick together (I don’t think of myself as ginger but, as I am never sure what colour my hair actually is, I thought I would just let it go and keep the wine flowing).
- chatting at length about Utah, polygamy and my future with the wife of a world-renowned, knighted athlete (this guy is so respected by the country that he is on a 50p coin) before turning around and talking about that conversation with a gold medalist from the London 2012 Games.
- agreeing wholeheartedly with a brilliant, warm, engaging BBC presenter who told us in her mellifluous Scottish accent that her life motto is “be a good and loyal friend” to both your friends and family because they are essential to you living a full and meaningful life.
- waving goodnight to Peter Pettigrew after laughing my ass off at the stories of his sailing mishaps.
- rekindling my passion for the inimitable radio show Just a Minute. If you don’t know it, you should check it out. The aim is to speak for one minute on a given subject without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Sounds easy until you are given a topic like aardvarks or the pros and cons of knitting.
- drinking tiny thimbles of wine and eating Scotch eggs the size of my face.
- and making a kiddo’s day when I begged his grandma to buy him Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so he could go on stage and have it signed.
I also had the immense pleasure of finding a mermaid statue along the riverfront. I never thought I would get so excited about that but, as you know, I have this postcard project… For the reader who received this card, you are certain to know who you are. I hope you enjoy it with a bottle of wine and some nice gooey brie.
The biggest event of the week, though, was being on the BBC. I never thought that might be a thing that I would do. Even better that it started because I got an email from them saying “we’ve heard about you and would love to hear your story.” That is quite a crazy thing to experience.
I am pretty good at talking and I am pretty good on my feet, so I wasn’t too nervous until I got into the office, sat down in front of the phone and had to wait for it to ring. Then I started freaking out. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was about to be interviewed live on the radio without having any idea how he might approach the topic. Luckily, he was a very easy person to talk to and, as he is genuinely interested in London and the congestion zone project, I relaxed right away and just enjoyed having a fun one-on-one chat about the walks I did.
All in all, it was a pretty fun-filled week!
I also bought my ticket for a visit to Muscat in 15 days, so I am sure to have more stories to tell and more postcards to send. If you want to be the lucky recipient, send me your address and it’ll be on its way in a jiff!
See you soon,